by Peter Hoeg
Most of the time, when the tension in a book is the result of a mystery that the protagonist is trying to solve, the ending is a letdown -- the answer is much more mundane than the possibilities were. Smilla's Sense of Snow almost avoids this trap, but not quite. Smilla, the icy main character, becomes obsessed with finding out who killed a child she knew, and why. The conspiracy that she unravels grows larger and larger, until no possible motive is enough to explain it; the solution is inevitably a letdown. Fortunately, Hoeg does not explain everything, and assumes an intelligent reader. The translation seemed strained in places, but overall this is a superb thriller.
copyright © 1997 John Regehr